My Story: Heather Elkins

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What were the steps leading up to your diagnosis?

I am 40 years old and have always suffered from migraines, clinical depression, and insomnia.

When I was a child, I was very active. I played sports and always seemed to be on the go. I had bouts of pain, but could always write it off as a pulled muscle from softball or something else.

As I became older and less active, the pain never subsided. Never in my wildest dreams did I think an actual medical condition caused it.

In 2014, while at work, I managed to fracture my back at my T-11 vertebrae. From that moment on, my pain has been constant. I can't remember the last time I didn't have a headache, body aches to the point of crying, or insomnia-filled nights.

In 2016, I was finally diagnosed with fibromyalgia. I was torn between despair over the thought of having a condition that there was no cure for and elation that I finally had an answer and it wasn't all in my head. Now I had an answer to a lifetime of feeling as if I were crazy.

My doctor told me that fibromyalgia isn't life-threatening, and I replied, "That's where we disagree. If you are in constant, chronic pain, you ask yourself daily how much longer you can live this way. I believe that, while the condition may not kill you, the symptoms could very well cause you to kill yourself." Don't get me wrong, I am not suicidal, but I would be lying if I said I wasn't "tired."

What lifestyle changes have you needed to make?

Since my diagnosis, I have been on numerous medications. I have taken Gabapentin (that didn't help), Trazadone to help me sleep (yeah, right), Effexor for the depression (nada) and numerous other medications. My doctor just prescribed Lyrica and I am picking it up today; fingers crossed that it relieves me even a little.

I enjoy nothing more than long, steaming soaks in the bathtub. Bath time seems to be the only part of my day that I am fully relaxed and have some respite from the pain. Lately, I have been putting Epsom Salt into the water which seems to help. I have also found that squeezing Johnson & Johnson Lavender Baby Bath helps me to relax.

Who has been there for you? How?

My husband has not always been so supportive. The main problem is that fibromyalgia is such a foreign concept to anyone that doesn't have it. I am happy to report that he has come around and now realizes that, just because it is an invisible illness does not make it less real.

My mother has been very supportive since day one. She has witnessed the symptoms since I was a child, so I am sure, as a mother, she was relieved that we finally had some answers. She goes out of her way to send me information and any suggestions that she comes across that may benefit me in any way. Without their support, I don't know how I would be able to function.

In 2016, I was finally diagnosed with fibromyalgia. I was torn between despair over the thought of having a condition that there was no cure for and elation that I finally had an answer and it wasn't all in my head. Now I had an answer to a lifetime of feeling as if I were crazy.

What accomplishment are you proud of?

The accomplishment that I am most proud of is my ability to crawl out of bed and put one foot in front of the other.

I have managed to maintain my sense of humor and I refuse to allow myself to feel sorry for myself more than a couple of times a week. That may not seem like much, but when you would like to stay in bed, block out the world and cry every single day, I feel like it is quite the victory.

What accomplishment are you proud of?

The accomplishment that I am most proud of is my ability to crawl out of bed and put one foot in front of the other.

I have managed to maintain my sense of humor and I refuse to allow myself to feel sorry for myself more than a couple of times a week. That may not seem like much, but when you would like to stay in bed, block out the world and cry every single day, I feel like it is quite the victory.

I refuse to feel sorry for myself.

I refuse to feel sorry for myself.

What's your advice to someone else living with fibromyalgia?

The best advice I can give to someone with fibromyalgia is to never give up.

Find a doctor that believes you and is willing to keep helping you find what works best for you. Do your research. Find suggestions of relief from other sufferers. I found this page last night and have read everything it has to offer.

Don't allow your diagnosis to rule your life. This is your life and you have the right to be happy. Find support, find time to relax, and find your happy place. Lastly, do not allow fibromyalgia to become "life-threatening."

The best advice I can give to someone with fibromyalgia is to never give up.

About Heather Elkins

My Story: Heather Elkins

I am a married mother of two grown children. I have six fur babies; a German Shepherd, an English Mastiff, two Miniature Dachshunds, and two cats.

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